I created and then abandoned a Twitter account many months ago. I had virtually zero reputation outside of Twitter when I started. And it wasn’t an account that became popular by following everyone back or using other tricks. On the abandoned account, all tweets were removed except one, which said:
Do not follow this account, follow this other account instead.
However, nearly 100,000 people followed the old account in the coming months (though many figured out their error eventually, and switched to the new one). That’s the power of a leader’s reputation in social media. Reputation can bring people to you even after you have left.
I’ve distilled what I’ve learned into five key techniques ANYONE can use to become a leader in social media. Some of these would rightly be called “secrets” because so few people seem to have ever heard of these concepts. So if you’re ready to have thousands of new users interested in what you have to say, let me start with the biggest secret of all:
1. Find And Champion Key Users
One of my more popular Twitter friends retweeted something from my @TweetSmarter account a couple of weeks ago. Then one of her more popular friends retweeted it. At last count, it had received over 70,000 clicks:
So if you could get either of these popular folks to retweet you, it would be your tweets getting thousands of extra clicks. Nice, right? I was also once added to a list of recommended to follow folks by a popular user. I gained several thousand extra followers in total on the days they tweeted about that list.
So, how do you get key users interested in what you share on social media? By first taking an interest in them. Imagine someone is always saying good things about you, promoting you and your needs to their community. All your dreams and desires matter to them, and they support you and encourage others to support you as well. They always promote a positive image of you and your interests.
Want to get people to do something like this for you? Then first do it for them. This is what I call the “super advocate” concept. It’s also known by an older name: the golden rule.
Social media has the potential to speed up human interactions. So, “do onto others as you would have them do unto you,” can really produce amazing results in a short time on social media. The “how to” of this is simple:
- Learn to select the right key users for you. Tip: Search Twitter Directories for topics you care about.
- Devote 2/3 of your social media time to engaging with one key user at a time.
2. Don’t Talk To An Empty Room
Did you happen to notice that both @AskAaronLee and @DanaMStanley increased their Klout score 11 to 15 points in just over three weeks, and credited primarily one simple thing for the increase? Both of their Klout scores took a huge leap after they started using BufferApp. With BufferApp you can schedule your Twitter and Facebook updates when most people are likely to be listening. You can’t lead if no one is listening. Combined with tools that track when your community is active online such as WhenToTweet, BufferApp can very efficiently increase your effectiveness on social media.
Note: You should check out the Science of Social Timing collection of infographics for more detailed information on this point.
3. To Become A Leader In Your Own Community, Start By Helping Existing Communities
Leaders get in front of communities to help them with their goals.
A great example of this is hashtag chats on Twitter. These are places people come to ask questions and share expertise on specific topics, such as #ToolsChat. First, choose one that fits your interests, and listen and learn. As you begin to understand the community, begin contributing. If you make the effort required to be a helpful contributor, you grow your reputation as a leader.
4. Create Community Interactions, Not Just Individual Interactions
Social media can be very time consuming. You need to find ways to increase your efficiency. One way is creating community interactions. The simplest approach is to ask questions of your community. I particularly like to take questions that come to me and turn around and ask the community to help. Another simple approach is to do a poll, whether impromptu or by linking to a poll app on your own website. It’s one post from you that engages many people.
5. Focus On High-Value Or Efficient Interactions And Connections Only
You can measure the quality of your efforts by asking of each interaction:
- Does it build reputation?
- Does it deliver value to me or someone else?
- Does it increase connectedness to my community?
- Is it efficient?
Rather than trying to encompass the entire range of possible social media efforts you can make, let me point out what is probably the highest value interaction in social media: Using your expertise to help someone. This is one reason why social media is such a helping place: it lets you create community that looks to you as a leader and mentor. For example, taking the time to search Twitter for questions people have about topics you know something about is a very high-value activity.
As you build your reputation as a leader, your reputation will begin to take on a life of its own. That’s how my abandoned account got tens of thousands of followers. It was an incredible lesson to me. Many people even kept tweeting personal recommendations of the old account name until they figured out the change. Because it was on tons of list, recommended in many, many blog posts, etc., people attracted to the reputation just kept arriving. And all I did was start by helping. Done right, helping is the highest quality and most efficient interaction possible, as it also creates connections, and builds reputation. And everyone can help someone. If you can help one person, you can help two, and if you can help two, you have already started building a community, and creating your reputation as a leader in that community. Don’t lose sight of always creating quality interactions and making quality connections. Use the quality scale and be ruthless with your time, and you too can quickly be acknowledged as an awesome leader yourself!
About the Author: As @TweetSmarter, Dave Larson has answered thousands of questions for his 300,000+ Twitter followers worldwide over the past 4+ years. His goal is to assist and empower everyone he comes into contact with.